To Bravely Run Away

An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.
On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.

Late afternoon finds Rukbat's rays shining down upon Xanadu's gardens, pathways dappled with sunlight, air moved by a swift breeze carrying the scent of warm ocean brine. It's a peaceful scene, soft, gentle, idyllic — and over. Somewhere, a seasonal insect begins shrieking, its short life driven by the need to procreate, and so its shrill alien call fills the air, with it rising the voices of countless others. R'hyn perches amidst the din, feet dangling down into that pool full of koi, clutching a book to his chest and staring at the trees all around in mild horror. What are this?

Look, that buggy screeching has absolutely nothing to do with Rhodelia despite the fact that the woman appears exactly when it starts up and promptly clasps her hands to her ears and drops a few flowers in the process. "Ugggghhhh… can we kill them?" The ear clapping probably isn't doing much good as she wanders closer to that tree R'hyn's staring at and one of the sources of the clamor. "Where are fairs of firelizards when you need them?"

That timing is suspect. Blue-grey eyes fasten on Rhodelia and narrow, associating her appearance with bringing forth this sudden cacophony without actually saying the words out loud. J'ACCUSE. "What?" It's a tentative question, posture reading he does not trust this bug-bringing newcomer, but he's also not rude. Water sluices off calves beneath cutoff shorts as he stands, six feet of bronzerider moving warily closer to the din to both hear her better and help retrieve a few flowers she's dropped. "Do you think that would work? Calling in firelizards I mean. 'Cause shells, this is…" Incredibly persistent, one insect winding down in time for another to take it up. He seems content to remain crouched for the moment, flowers forgotten in one hand as he stares warily up at the treeline. "Does this happen every turn?"

Rhodelia may be the HARBINGER OF DOOM!!! LOOK UPON HER AND TREMBLE! or not. That's totally up to you. As for the question, she straightens up and nearly shouts again. "Kill them?" Just in case she couldn't be heard over the racket, she points to the tree full of horror and then makes the whole neck slicing gesture. Even as she picks up a few of the flowers she dropped, some more fall out of her pockets. Someone should have brought a basket. As for the firelizard suggestion, she shrugs. "I don't know. Mine will seem to try and eat anything… but I only got two. Think your dragon could call in some friends?" As for if it happens every year she blinks. "I don't know. Maaaaaybe. Or maybe it was such a horrific memory I blocked it out."

Of all the things R'hyn was prepared for, miming was not one of them. The bronzerider chokes around laughter, trying and utterly failing at repressing it and eventually giving up, dropping his head to press forehead to wrist while he chuckles, sobers, laughs again, and finally manages, "Ah, I see. Kill them. Yes. I mean. I feel like we should, on general principle. This is, frankly, ridiculous, and I don't - my, you have a lot of flowers - I don't support it in the slightest." The bronzer sets his book aside, handing fallen flora up to the HARBINGER OF DOOM even as her name suddenly becomes much, much more apropos. I bet you didn't think it was possible, but here we are, with R'hyn flashing a grin that goes tense as soon as it appears, eyes widening as words get passed along and, in true game-of-telephone form, get taken way, WAY out of context. "No! No-no-no, don't you freaking dare, I will tear off your wings and feed them to your mother ohhhh my freaking…" R'hyn has gained his feet during this outburst, gaze turned skywards as two large, dark shapes blot out the SKY and the SUN and also all of R'hyn's hopes and dreams, judging by the furious, resigned look on his stupid, bearded face. « I HAVE COME TO HELP. » Nevermind that that friend is Leirith, and Xermiltoth's words pour into the minds of R'hyn and Rhodelia and everyone nearby with golden lack of inhibition. « AND SEE, I BROUGHT A FRIEND, » the dark bronze says as he finds exactly one place to place his feet without crushing a tree. "You're going to have to teach me that memory blocking trick," Ryn drawls from behind a facepalm. "I'm going to need it." At least the bugs have gone momentarily quiet from fear and shock? It's something.

Rhodelia is a woman of many talents. Serving drinks, miming, filling out paperwork, promptly losing the paperwork that she just filled out, you name it, except for apparently holding onto flowers as a few more spill out from her pockets. One is tucked behind her ear while a few of the more damaged ones are just tossed at the base of the tree. Maybe a peace offering to their new bug overlords? The sudden outburst from the bronzerider is given a side-eye and a slow but not to concerned step back just in case. But the arrival of the bronze and his golden friend get an ahhhh of comprehension. "Well… I bet they could both eat a literal TON of bugs." She shrugs as she offers up the brightest side she can find.

Well, Xermiltoth tried to bring a friend. Not seconds behind comes the furious, "NO. I SAID NO. LEIRITH, SO HELP ME IF YOU PUT ANOTHER - LEIRITH!!!! ABSOLUTELY -" And there's Risali, pregnant to an awkward degree, so busy trying to make 'DO NOT PASS GO and I WILL EFF YOU UP IF YOU PUT ANOTHER TALON-TOE CLOSER TO THIS GARDEN signals with her arms to notice that she's just stepped into a landfield of bugs. Literally. WHOOSH! goes the army of pests, and Risali has exactly one word for the swarm: … Okay, actually it's not a word at all. It's a wonder if it's even a sound, because she is screaming - actually screaming - and swing-flailing at bugs and - "EUGH THAT WAS MY MOU - NO!!!!!!!!!!!!" Listen. The Weyrwoman can fight a lot of things, but bugs are much more accomplished in the art of Pernese jiu jitsu than she is. So she runs, because when one is overwhelmed, they RETREAT amid the dignifying trumpet of one gold dragon who broadcasts, « AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. LOOK XERMILTOTH, MY MINION HAS COME TO HELP AS WELL. I DID NOT KNOW THAT YOU SOFT, SQUISHY, EASILY-DEAD TYPE ENJOYED SO BADASS A MEAL, MINION. I SHALL ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES WITH YOU. I JUST WANT — » That's a massive golden snout, trying to wedge its way in through a garden arc. « A SAMPLE OF THE DELICACIES. » "LEIRITH I SAID -" the rest of that ends on a pitchy shriek of sound that probably means the frenzy she is QUICKLY BRINGING WITH HER TOWARDS R'HYN AND RHODY MADE IT INTO HER MOUTH AGAIN. And then there she is, grabbing at Heryn like a mad woman, shoving her face in against his jacket as she catches it with both hands and brings it to her face. "THIS IS YOUR FAULT," she announces, like R'hyn has the power to summon bugs, and then grey eyes - furious and maybe a little suspiciously wet because THERE ARE BUGS AND THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THEM - fall on Rhodelia. Maybe she was going to say something to her best-worst assistant, but it gets lost in another scream as some bug rudely lands on Risali and she becomes a smol mass of flailing limbs that retreats from R'hyn to cling at Rhodelia instead. IS IT SAFE? "XERMILTOTH GET YOUR STUPID PAW THE HELL OUT OF MY GARDEN." « DO NOT. PUT ANOTHER ONE IN!!! » "LEIRITH, NO!!!" And so it goes.

Listen. There's only so much hell R'hyn can take. So when Xermiltoth starts literally tiptoeing through the tulips to get closer to them because « YES MA'AM. I CAN DO IT R'HYN, LEIRITH SAID SO!, » the bronzerider groans and about faces to focus the entirety of his attention on Rhodelia. Because what he can't see, he can't be upset about, right? (Insert a distant, muffled *crash* and a much-less-muffled « OOPS » here.) Right. "H-how many flowers do you have?," asked because there are more on the ground despite her efforts to do the smart thing by appeasing the heathen bug gods that have seen to take up their horror-howls again, albeit tentatively, as though not quite sure the danger is over now that wings have stopped stirring their leaves. It is not over. It is merely plonking its paws into the pond behind R'hyn and acking aloud with a brilliantly observed, « OH, LOOK, THERE ARE FISH. » "Thank you, yes," R'hyn says around a plastic grin, gaze still very much fixed on Rhodelia, "that is definitely a… perk of this whole—" And then somebody screams, and it says something about Heryn, or Risali, or maybe them both that instead of reacting as a search and rescue rider ought, R'hyn's face falls and he utters a groaned, "It got worse. How could it possibly get worse?" Because while Rhodelia might have been the harbinger, here comes the plague-bringer herself, with her a visible bug-cloud that causes R'hyn's skin to try to crawl straight out of his clothes. Or it would, if Risali weren't so busy CLINGING TO THEM. "Faranth, what have you done?! Wait, my fault? Piss off, you evil harpy, this wasn't ME. This was HER!" The woman to which Risali is now clinging, much to R'hyn's relief. The bronzer straightens his clothes, looking indignant as he throws Rhody under the PERN BUS, the impressiveness of his glare rather ruined by the black-bronze head that thuds to the ground behind him, maw gaping open like a thrown hatch as Xermiltoth legiterally wait for the bugs to come to him. Because this isn't ridiculous enough already.

Rhodelia will protect you, Risali! Or she'll at least flail at the bugs for you? Although puny little human hands can only do so much against the swarm, but she tries a bit lazily and wincing each time she swings out her arm. "Try to not open your mouth." She mutters through some clenched teeth. No bugging eating for her! Yet. And then she pauses in flailing as suddenly she's being questioned about her flowers. Like that's the biggest problem they have. "Uhhh… several. Pocketfuls." She didn't count or counts like a toddler. And then any advice to not keep her mouth open goes out the window as R'hyn flings that bus her way and she gapes in shock. E TU??? But only a few bugs get in before she's spluttering and ready to defend her HONOR. "Hey!!! I've been in the gardens plenty of times with no bug-meggedon showing up!" It might not do a ton of good, but little Molotov is finally here to join the party and because things keep getting better, the bronze firelizard has no desire to eat bugs. He's somehow found a scrap of firestone somewhere and now darts about trying to incinerate a bug or four.

"What have I done? YOU — YOU PISS OFF YOU -" NOPE. Risali is gagging now, somehow about to make this impossibly even worse. At least she lets go of Rhodelia when she doubles over and FLAILS HER HANDS to keep even MORE BUGS AT BAY. She WILL NOT THROW UP. She WILL. NOT. THROW. UP. It's probably honestly why she's forgoing conversation about flowers and the unlimited possibilities of Rhodelia's pocket(s) as she makes for the bronzerider. IF ANYBODY DESERVES THE INDIGNITY OF UNWEARABLE CLOTHING IT'S - "XERMILTOTH. GET. OUT." Just kidding. She's moving her fury backward, back towards the pond amid Leirith's BOMBASTIC LAUGHTER until she's reached that massive, gaping maw and she SMACKS HIM right on the least sharp part that she can find. "GET. OUT. OF. MY. GARDEN." Xanadu's garden really, Risali, but listen. "And she's right/, you know." Choke, cough, gag. "This didn't show up until //you did." Listen, Xermiltoth. If you don't get out of here, Risali is going to smack your precious face again and NOBODY WANTS THAT. Except… except maybe Leirith. « DO NOT LISTEN TO HER. WHAT DOES SHE KNOW? SHE IS SMALL AND ONLY SOMETIMES BADASS. UNLIKE YOU, WHO IS ALWAYS BADASS. » Oh goody, now there's a massive gold paw coming in the gardens as well and earning a wordless screech from Risali. "RHODELIA." You're her assistant, right? "HELP ME." R'hyn, you can probably just perish though. Amid the swarm. Risali would be okay with that. Pretty aces.

It's definitely the biggest problem, RHODELIA. R'hyn is so deep in denial that he's reached sphinxly zen, and has latched onto the conversation about flowers and her possession of so many of them like a particularly bizarre liferaft. Tow his sanity to safety! "How many pockets do you have?!" God, Heryn, what is this, the inquisition? Apparently, for he weathers her gaping, laughing rudely at the bug-choking that follows (and, thereby, accidentally mouthing a few of his own) before he says, "Heresay! I've been here before, too, and this has never— PLECH. BLAGH. ACHGHGFVFGLKLEH!!! IZZ GOT MY WIP OMAFARANF GWOSS!" R'hyn's voice reaches heretofore unseen heights, winding up somewhere around a girlish screech as he smacks and paws at his own face in an attempt to dislodge a particularly enthusiastic critter that has somehow managed to lodge itself in the corner of his mouth. "GetitoffgetitoffI'mgonnabesick!" Xermiltoth, meanwhile, laughs no less loudly than his cousin-in-spirit, sparkles dazzling into minds everywhere as he says, « VERY WELL, SMALL, NOT-OFTEN-BADASS ONE. BESIDES, MY TINY BRETHREN HERE HAS THE RIGHT IDEA. » Wait, what? "Wait, what?" R'hyn echoes that sentiment as Xermiltoth croons his approval for Molotov's brilliance, big body bunching beneath him, scattering water far and wide as he launches himself up into the air over the gardens and wings towards the clearing. "He is either — PLEH!! — he is either going to get help or about to set fire to this entire freaking place and either way I am not sticking around here to find out." And neither should EITHER OF YOU, implied, probably. He's not not just legging it away from this dumpster fire of a place and leaving them in the dust to deal with the ashes and/or deluge of insect carapaces. Noooo. Definitely not. (He is though. He really, really is. SEE YA.)

"Don't have your baby here!!!" Rhodelia might confuse the whole very-pregnant-about-to-hurl with very-pregnant-about-to-not-be-pregnant, either which would not be good to happen among all the horror of the swarm. REgardless, she's flailing and putting the bronzerider between them as a human shield. And then there's a call for duty and she stops her flailing. One dragon she knows, the other she doesn't and so, she decides to head towards that golden paw. "So uhhhh… Leirith." So conversational and not awkward amid the chaos. "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but the harpers intercepted some codes about renegades and uhhh… pirates. They should be in the Sea heading this way." Totally legitimate ships minding your own business, please send complaints to Weyrwoman Risali's Office, kthxbai. And while Molotov's tiny flame isn't doing much besides singing a few of the pests, Rhody's eyes widen as it sounds like one of the dragons is going to try and imitate firelizard. "Uhhhh, Leirith. Also, your rider is NOT FIREPROOF. DON'T LET HIM FLAME THE GARDENS." At least not with them in it! After, who cares. Sometimes you gotta burn the house down with the spider.

"I'M NOT HAVING A BABY I'M - EUUUUUUUUUGH!!!!!!!!!!" Eating bugs. Rilali is most definitely eating even more bugs, but not so many bugs that she can't stop long enough to point at R'hyn, and laugh, and tell him, "You like ridiculo - ECK." Instant karma. But totally worth it. But R'hyn is not the only, 'Wait, what?' to interrupt the chirrup of the swarm; no, Risali STARES UP AT THE BRONZE and just as he lifts off she's shrieking, "XERMILTOTH NO!" with as much as she can manage (which, with the way she doubles over and presses her hand to her stomach says maybe, Rhodelia, maybe she is about to have this baby). WORRY NOT. LEIRITH IS HERE. And while Rhodelia approaches her paw to have a reasonable conversation, Leirith attempts to shove her snout into another opening. « AHAHAHAHA. SECRETS. EXCELLENT. I LOVE SECRETS. SHARING THEM MAKES US FRIENDS. » And she listens. Or, you know… she… pretends to listen. She's currently chomping at bugs that venture close enough to the DANGERZOOOOOOOOOOOONE. « THEN WE WILL TRAIN OUR NEW FRIENDS TO FIGHT FOR US. IT IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA, RHODELIA. » A beat. « AND WHY WOULD I DO THAT. IT'S ONLY A LITTLE BIT OF FIRE. MINION, YOU WILL BE OKAY. DO NOT EMBARRASS ME AND DIE. » … She's joking, probably. You know who else isn't sticking around to find out? "COWARD!!!!" Risali. She's moving as fast as she can (and breathing hard and trying NOT to breathe through her mouth) as she hooks one arm through Rhodelia's and pulls her towards the exit. "RUN." Because, to be honest, Risali doesn't trust that Xermi isn't about to bring the establishment down on them. Also, she clearly wants to catch up to R'hyn, so that she can trip him and run faster. That is how you survive. You MAKE SACRIFICES.

When a pregnant weyrwoman says run, Rhodelia's not going to argue. She'll run arm in arm stage left or stage right or whichever stage doesn't get them burnt to a crisp or devoured by bugs. "So Leirith knows not to try and board any fishing ships, right???" Discussion of just how bad that distraction tactic might work out may be drowned out by the sounds of BRAVELY RUNNING AWAY.

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